‘There is no pre-condition to fulfilling my constitutional mandate’- President on meeting Harmon

President Irfaan Ali on Friday said there are no pre-conditions to meeting with the Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon as required by the Constitution of Guyana to make several judicial appointments.

“There is no pre-condition to fulfilling my mandate in accordance with the constitution,” the President told reporters during a news conference on Friday, in response to questions about meeting with the Opposition Leader to appoint members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

According to the Constitution, members of the JSC include one person who who hold or have held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

The President’s response is a change from his previous position that his Government needs to be recognized as legitimate by the Opposition before an engagement.

However, he noted that “there is an issue, and this is outside of my mandate regarding my constitutional role, where you have someone who is continuously saying that this govt is illegitimate so he has a moral problem.” The intended meeting he said, will expose Mr. Harmon’s “duplicity.”

But on his part, President Ali said “I am fully committed to abiding by every aspect of the constitution.” In fact, he added that “You can go to bed and sleep comfortable, enjoy the best of dreams, knowing that in reality, you have a President that will do everything in keeping with the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana.”

The other members of the JSC are the Chancellor of the Judiciary as Chairperson, the Chief Justice, Chairman of the Public Service Commission and one or two persons who are not attorneys-at-law in active practice, after the National Assembly has meaningfully consulted such bodies as appear to it to represent attorneys- at-law in Guyana.

The Head of State said the JSC, which is responsible for making recommendations for judicial appointments and removing or exercising disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in judicial offices, is a priority.

He noted that on his return from the COP26 forum, he will be addressing the appointments of all commissions, boards and other offices.